Posts Tagged 'apartment life'

The Woodlands of Knoxville: Selectively Enforcing Policies since 2009

I live in the Woodlands of Knoxville, a “gated” community (the gates are usually open or frequently broken) where people have the option of purchasing units. They can buy these units and live in them or rent them out to students. If they rent them out to students, then they can manage it themselves or allow the office to manage the property for them.

I live in a unit managed by the property. Downstairs, in a privately-managed unit, the tenant has two horrible dogs that bark for hours on end. (Try three and a half hours straight yesterday. Yeah. It’s ridiculous.) Unfortunately for me, because the Woodlands of Knoxville doesn’t manage the unit, the most they can do is fine the tenants and notify the owners of the property. (What a sweet deal, right? They basically get money without having to actually FIX THE PROBLEM. Where can I get a job like that?)

Also unfortunately for me, the Woodlands of Knoxville doesn’t seem to understand that regardless of how they’ve tied their own hands with their policies, my rights are still being violated, and that violation constitutes a breach of their lease agreement. At this point, they want me to call Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Animal Control because they say there’s “nothing else” they can do.

TN Code requires a good faith obligation to perform the duties in lease agreements and in the TN Landlord-Tenant Act. In addition to basically blowing me off in their e-mails (it’s obvious, based on their responses, that they either: don’t read my messages in their entirety, or think I’m an idiot who doesn’t know my rights—like a lot of the other tenants who live here), the Woodlands of Knoxville isn’t really putting forth a lot of effort to enforce the other rules and policies that they have chosen to enact. Tenants aren’t allowed to have grills, for example—they pose a fire hazard when kept on the porches that contain the only staircase in some of the buildings. But a LOT of tenants have grills. Big ones, too. Tenants also aren’t allowed to leave trash out in common areas—on porches, in breezeways, etc. The landlord is actually required by Tennessee Code to provide a dumpster for complexes as large as the Woodlands of Knoxville and to maintain property to provide a clean, habitable living environment. And yet, tenants leave piles of trash outside their doors—sometimes in bags, sometimes loose trash, sometimes in giant trash barrels. And they stay there for days, sometimes weeks.

On my way home today, I took a drive through one SECTION of my apartment complex and took pictures of the trash and grills I saw. These units are townhouses, and there are around 12 of them in the area I perused. 9 out of the 12 had trash or a grill, in violation of the Woodlands of Knoxville’s policies and Tennessee Code. I sent them pictures, which I also uploaded to Flickr, in case they couldn’t open the Zip file I sent them.

Now, if the Woodlands of Knoxville refuses to enforce a minor, revenue-building policy such as removing trash and imposing fines, how on earth can I believe that they’re acting in good faith on my behalf? I can’t, and they don’t understand that, either. It’s mind-boggling. All I have to say is, thank God this is the last year I’m living here.

Housing Advice

I’m about to turn in my keys at my old apartment building. I realize this advice is a little late, as most people have already found places to live, but in light of the fiasco I went through this year, I have some tips that still may help someone, even in July.

– READ YOUR LEASE. If you can’t understand your lease, try to find someone who has some legal background and can interpret it for you. Or ask your landlord. It’s a good idea to know what your lease says because there might be policies or a procedure for notifying the landlord that you’re moving out.
– Try to live somewhere that has separate leases for roommates. That way, in the event that one roommate unexpectedly quits his/her job and moves away to be unemployed (but omg in loooove), you aren’t responsible for paying his/her rent. Plus, the landlord can send the collection agents after him/her without messing up your credit.
– Be familiar with your state’s landlord/tenant laws. See if the code includes a right to quiet enjoyment of your property. If you have horrible, loud neighbors and your state recognizes quiet enjoyment, there’s a good chance they’re violating this right and you should be sure to mention that to your apartment office. Knowing the law can be intimidating to a landlord who doesn’t want to enforce privacy and security policies; citing to the code is even better. 😉
– Keep written/photographic/video evidence of your interactions with your landlord and roommates. I took photos of my apartment after I cleaned and before I locked up for the last time, just in case they try to accuse me of not cleaning. Save apartment-related e-mails to/from your roommates or landlord in case you have to bring them up later.
– Don’t be afraid to call the cops if someone is bothering you. If your complex has a courtesy officer, you can call them, but it might be beneficial to just call the city/county police first. Especially if you have noisy neighbors that the courtesy officer refuses to do anything about.
– For goodness’s sake, lock your doors and don’t answer it for people you don’t know. People were robbed in my neighborhood when they answered their door, and a few people wandered into my apartment looking for someone else. Don’t be stupid when it comes to protecting yourself.
– Make sure you can get along with your roommate(s). Spending time with them isn’t really an indication of how they’ll be as a roommate, but it helps. Lay ground rules and speak out if you have a problem. Establish early on whether you’re going to pay for rent together or utilities, etc. and what jobs you’re going to do to keep the apartment clean. And ESPECIALLY establish whether it’s okay to throw parties in the apartment. Your roommate’s friends might not be as considerate of your TV or furniture as your roommate is.

Anything else? Overall, I can’t wait to get my stuff turned in. I would never recommend my apartment complex to anyone in grad school, especially after the crap I went through during 2nd semester, so I’m ecstatic about getting my deposit returned and never dealing with those people again. Just a few hours until I get everything turned in, and I’m DONE!!!

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